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Why Predatory Lenders Envy Large-Mouth Bass

August 21, 2009

In the financial world, predatory lenders are constantly evolving, adapting their products and practices to evade attempted regulation and to seize new opportunities to separate the unwary from their hard-earned money.  In the natural world, however, at least one set of highly successful predators – specifically, the big fresh-water fish that eat little fish – has found a solution that works over the long haul.

According to a recent article in the journal Evolution, as summarized here, “bass and other centrachids that feed primarily on fish have remained relatively unchanged over time. Once they evolved the optimal size and shape for catching fish – roughly 20 million years ago – natural selection seems to have kept them in an evolutionary holding pattern.”

As one of the researchers explains, “Once they achieved a [body plan] that was good at feeding on fish, they tended not to evolve away from that. They were already good at catching the best thing out there. Why should they diversity any more? Life was good.”

Back in the financial world, in contrast, predatory lenders may be facing an evolutionary dead end. Although in recent decades they have found it relatively easy to keep ahead of the current fragmented and cumbersome system for regulating consumer finance, the tide is turning. A nationwide effort, in which many AFFIL Partners have played leading roles, has won a series of victories, from a new credit card law that bans a wide range of abusive practices to successful state level efforts to end payday lending in New Hampshire, Ohio, Arizona, and Arkansas.

More importantly, the Obama administration’s proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency would create a single regulator with the authority, expertise, and flexibility to respond quickly and powerfully to whatever new mutations the current financial predators give rise to. Sign up in the blue “Take Action” box at the right to join us in our efforts to make predatory lenders extinct!

(Photo:  Cliff)

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